French frigate Boudeuse (1766)

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La Boudeuse.jpg
La Boudeuse arriving in Matavai in 1767.
Career (France) French Navy Ensign French Navy Ensign French Navy Ensign
Name: La Boudeuse
Namesake: "Sulky (Girl)"
Builder: Nantes shipyard
Laid down: 1766
Launched: 1766
Decommissioned: 1800
General characteristics
Class & type: Frigate
Displacement: 550 tonnes
Length: 40.6 m (133 ft)
Beam: 10.5 m (34 ft)
Propulsion: Sail
Complement: 214
Armament: 26 guns, later upgraded to 32
Armour: timber

Boudeuse was a frigate of the French Navy, famous for being the exploration ship of Louis-Antoine de Bougainville between 1766 and 1769.


First French circumnavigation[edit]

La Boudeuse, under Antoine de Bougainville, departed from Nantes on 15 November 1766 for the first French circumnavigation, along with the Étoile. On board was the botanist Philibert Commerçon and his valet, later unmasked by the ship's surgeon as Jeanne Baré, Commerçon's mistress; she would become the first woman to circumnavigate the globe.

The expedition saw islands of the Tuamotu group on the following March 22, on April 2 saw the peak of Mehetia and famously visited the island of Otaheite shortly after and narrowly missed becoming their discoverer, unaware of a previous visit, and claim, by Samuel Wallis in HMS Dolphin less than a year previously. Bougainville claimed the island for France and named it New Cythera.

They left Tahiti and sailed westward to southern Samoa and the New Hebrides, then on sighting Espiritu Santo turned west still looking for the "Southern Continent". On June 4 he almost ran into heavy breakers and had to change course to the north and east. He had almost found the Great Barrier Reef. He sailed through what is now known as the Solomon Islands that, due of the hostility of the people there, he avoided. Bougainville named them Bougainville Island for himself. The expedition was attacked by people from New Ireland so they made for the Moluccas. At Batavia they received news of Wallis and Carteret who had preceded Bougainville.

On 16 March 1769 the expedition completed its circumnavigation and arrived at St Malo, with the loss of only seven out of upwards of 200 men, an extremely low level of casualty, and a credit to the enlightened management of the expedition by Bougainville.

American Revolutionary War[edit]

La Boudeuse later took part in the American War of Independence. On 13 January 1779, she captured the 16-gun sloop HMS Weazle. The French took her to the Antilles where they disarmed her by taking all her guns for Admiral d'Estaing's squadron. They then sold her at Guadeloupe in 1781.[1]

On 28 February, La Boudeuse took Saint Martin island. On 6 July 1779, she participated in the Battle of Grenada as a member of the Rear Guard.

French Revolutionary Wars[edit]

During the French Revolutionary Wars, in the Action of 8 June 1794, La Boudeuse captured from the Sardinian Navy the 36-gun former French frigate Alceste. The British had captured her in Toulon harbour in August 1793 and then handed her over to the Sardinians.

Last journey[edit]

On 28 January 1799, La Boudeuse under the command of Lieutenant Calamand sailed from Toulon to Malta. La Boudeuse was loaded with essential supplies for the beleaguered French garrison in Malta which at the time was under a blockade. The French garrison under the command of General Claude-Henri Belgrand de Vaubois had withdrawn to the fortified cities found around the Grand Harbour basin following an armed insurrection by the Maltese back in September 1798. Portuguese and Royal Navy ships were assisting the Maltese rebellion by imposing a sea blockade on French shipping, thus cutting off French supplies. Under the cover of inclement weather, La Boudeuse managed to run the blockade and on 4 February 1799 she entered the French-controlled Grand Harbour. She was moored under the Lower Barracca. In the early months of 1800, the French authorities were forced to break up La Boudeuse for firewood because supplies of firewood for bakeries had run out.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Demerliac (1996), p. 72, #454.


  • Demerliac, Alain (1996) La Marine de Louis XVI: Nomenclature des navires français de 1774 À 1792. (Nice: Éditions OMEGA). ISBN 2-906381-23-3

External links[edit]